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USTR moves forward in dairy dispute process

U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai has requested a dispute settlement panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review measures adopted by Canada that she says undermine the ability of American dairy exporters to sell to Canadian consumers.

During a press briefing Tuesday, a USTR senior associate general counsel attorney said the complaint is not against Canada’s overall supply management system, but, “I think the issue is, as stated in the press release and in the panel request, is that Canada is setting aside a percentage to a processor group which we think is in direct violation of the text that was agreed to.”

The USTR officials say Canada’s reserving dairy tariff-rate quotas (TRQ’s) for specific processor and import groups are preventing high-value U.S. products from entering the Canadian market.

Dairy groups and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack are applauding the measure.  In a statement, Vilsack says this is an important step for American agriculture and one that brings the U.S. dairy sector closer to realizing the full benefits of the USMCA. Vilsack is hoping for a swift resolution that allows Canadian consumers access to high-quality U.S. dairy products and delivers the economic opportunities promised under USMCA to U.S. dairy farmers.”

Krysta Harden with the U.S. Dairy Export Council says the concerns are long-standing and well-founded and trading partners need to know that failure to meet their ag trade commitments with the U.S. will result in robust action.

Edge Dairy Farmers Cooperative President Brody Stapel supports the USTR’s actions, saying additional market access into Canada is an important part of USMCA, and their farmers appreciate USTR’s commitment to holding Canada to the agreement and giving the U.S. dairy community greater export opportunities as intended.

Jeff Lyon with FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative says “Now is the time to make it very clear to Canada’s trade leaders – that failure to meet their agriculture trade obligations will have consequences. Canada needs to stop building barriers in spite of the trade agreements they’ve signed and participate as a good trading partner.”

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